Family – Music In A Doll´s House (1968)

frontcover1Music in a Doll’s House is the debut album by English progressive rock group Family, released on 19 July 1968. The album, co-produced by Dave Mason of Traffic,[3] features a number of complex musical arrangements contributing to its ambitious psychedelic sound.

The Beatles had originally intended to use the title A Doll’s House for the album they were recording during 1968. The release of Family’s similarly titled debut then prompted them to adopt the minimalist title The Beatles for what is now more commonly referred to as The White Album due to its plain white sleeve.

“Old Songs, New Songs” features a cameo from the Tubby Hayes group.

The album was the first of its kind by an English rock group on the US Reprise label set up for Frank Sinatra. It was licensed to the label by Dukeslodge Enterprises, a company run by the band’s manager, John Gilbert, who also acted as ‘executive producer’ of the album. The album was released on vinyl in two different guises: mono (RLP6312) and stereo (RSLP6312) and Stereo 8 Track Cartridge. Mono vinyl copies featured a different mix to the stereo pressing and many mono copies were returned to the shops as they often skipped tracks. The mono edition was swiftly withdrawn, making this a much sought-after format.

This album was initially issued in the US using the UK import and sold in the US as a domestic album with an extra piece of cardboard to stiffen the sleeve (as they essentially had the same catlog number in both countries). Around the time the second album was issued in the US, US pressings of this album started to appear. (The album also initially had a 12″ black and white photo of group included as an insert.)

In the Q & Mojo Classic Special Edition Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, the album ranked number 30 in its list of “40 Cosmic Rock Albums”.(by wikipedia)

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The non-LP single “Scene Through the Eye of a Lens” b/w “Gypsy Woman” not withstanding, Music in a Doll’s House (1968) is the debut full-length release from the earliest incarnation of Family, featuring Roger Chapman (harmonica/tenor sax/vocals), Rick Grech (violin/ cello/bass guitar/vocals), Rob Townsend (percussion/drums), John “Charlie” Whitney (guitar/pedal steel guitar/keyboards), and Jim King (harmonica/keyboards/soprano sax/tenor sax/vocals). Their highly original sound has often been compared to Traffic, which may be in part due to the production skills of Jimmy Miller and Dave Mason, the latter also contributing the organic and rootsy rocker “Never Like This.” Additionally, neither band was overtly psychedelic or progressive, contrasting them from the other burgeoning combos such as Soft Machine, Pink Floyd, and Caravan. Family’s deceptively involved arrangements are coupled with an equally unique blend of Chapman’s commanding vocals driving through the jazz and folk-rooted tunes. “The Chase” is a spirited opener that immediately establishes their unmistakable vibe, which is furthered on the sides “Old Songs for New Songs” and the aggressive rocker “Peace of Mind.” The antithesis can be heard on the rural-flavored “Mellowing Grey” and “Winter,” or perhaps the almost blatantly trippy “See Through Windows.”(by Lindsay Planer)

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The original inner sleeve

Personnel:
Roger Chapman (vocals, harmonica, saxophone)
Ric Grech (bass, vocals, violin, cello)
Jim King (saxophone, vocals, harmonica)
Rob Townsend (drums, percussion)
John “Charlie” Whitney (guitar)
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Dave Mason (mellotron)

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Tracklist:
01. The Chase (Whitney/Chapman) 2.24
02. Mellowing Grey (Whitney/Chapman) 2.59
03. Never Like This (Mason) 2.29
04. Me My Friend (Whitney/Chapman) 2.09
05. Variation On A Theme of Hey Mr. Policeman (instrumental) (Whitney/Chapman) 0:25
06. Winter (Whitney/Chapman) 2.37
07. Old Songs New Songs (Whitney/Chapman) 4.14
08. Variation On A Theme Of The Breeze (instrumental) (Whitney/Chapman) 0.36
09. Hey Mr. Policeman (Whitney/Grech/Chapman) 3.21
10. See Through Windows (Whitney/Chapman4.07
11. Variation On A Theme Of Me My Friend (instrumental) (Whitney) 0.20
12. Peace Of Mind (Whitney/Chapman) 2.31
13, Voyage (Whitney/Chapman) 3.53
14. The Breeze (Whitney/Chapman) 2.57
15. 3 x Time + God Save The Queen (hidden Track) (Whitney/Chapman) 3.51

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